A Christmas Miracle at MediLodge of Sterling Heights

On October 3, 2013, Joseph P. was admitted to MediLodge of Sterling Heights. He came to us after a medically complicated hospital stay and changed our lives forever. Joseph was a 72 year old patient that was diagnosed earlier in the year with duodenal adenocarcinoma. This is a cancer affecting the beginning section of the small intestines and is rare in comparison to other cancers of the intestinal tracts. Treatment of this type of cancer can vary and resection is difficult because of the many blood vessels that are present that supply the lower body. Despite the odds Joseph underwent a Whipple surgery on August 16, 2013. This surgery includes removing a portion of the Pancreas and Gall Bladder and rerouting how digestive enzymes are placed in to our digestive tract for optimal nutrition. His surgery was complicated by post-operative cardiac issues, which he overcame. He began his journey to recovery shortly after the surgery, only to end up back in the hospital on September 3, 2013 where he had cardiac issues and required intubation. He remained intubated until September 15, 2013 and remained in ICU until he was admitted to Medilodge of Sterling Heights on October 3, 2013 after obtaining a stable status. Due to his fragile status, Joseph was admitted to our critical care room. The critical care room is staffed with a registered nurse and is fully equipped with state of the art monitors that allow us to thoroughly assess a patient’s status, timely in order to prevent hospitalizations. He was oxygen dependent and was not able to take anything by mouth. Despite his very debilitated status and extreme muscle atrophy, he and his family decided they wanted to push on and do therapy. He had a fire inside of him and when others may have given up, he pressed on and started his fight for the return of his independence and so therapy began.

MediLodge of Sterling Heights

Former MediLodge of Sterling Heights Lodger Joseph P. and family.

Joseph had his first day of therapy the day after he was admitted to us. The evaluating therapists went to the critical care room to evaluate him. He was lying in bed with his oxygen on and had just broken a fever, so he was in a cold sweat. The therapists looked at his family members and had a discussion about whether therapy would be appropriate. Their goal was for him to walk and resume the active life he had before, so we began therapy. That first day he mumbled answers to our questions. He sat up at the edge of the bed with maximum assistance from two therapists and could barely lift his arms and legs. The therapists collaborated with the physician, as well as nursing and the family and wrote up a plan of care. At that point in time, Joe’s goals were very simple, they were for him to be able to sit at the edge of the bed and perform basic grooming tasks. Before he could start to walk he would have to gain enough strength to tolerate sitting up in a wheelchair. To most, this might seem like an easy task, but after over a month in the hospital Joseph had a lot of trunk strength and endurance to regain. Speech Therapy and the dietician worked together to develop a treatment plan that would allow him to start taking trials of food, but to ensure he maintained a healthy weight. Joseph also presented with some confusion, which speech therapy wrote goals to help improve his memory and level of communication for a safe return home. That first week of therapy was very trying on him. He could not stand up so a mechanical lift was used to put him in to a cardiac chair for therapy. Due to his compromised respiratory status and fragile cardiac status his nurse accompanied him to therapy to monitor him for activity tolerance.

Joseph participated in nine weeks of therapy. During those nine weeks he gave 100% every day. He progressed from sitting in a cardiac chair, to sitting in a wheelchair and propelling it. By week four he was standing and performing transfers with maximum assistance from one person and by discharge he was able to walk with a walker over 100 feet with a walker and manipulate 2 stairs. He began talking with a strong voice and eating two meals a day by the end of the second week and by discharge was eating a regular diet and regular liquids with good cognition. He progressed from being completely dependent for all basic self needs to being able to dress, bath and groom himself. In nine short weeks he made a fairly complete recovery. On December 6, 2014 all those that cared for him bid him farewell as he got in to his car and left with his family to return to his home up north. When asked about his therapy at Medilodge of Sterling Heights Joseph responded “It was great! Without them, I would not be where I am today.” We are all very humbled by his gratitude for the level of nursing care as well as the skills of the therapy department. We can guide our patients in their recovery and we are skilled in knowing which muscles to strengthen and how to strengthen them for optimal usage and nursing can monitor cardiac output, fluid levels and respiratory rates, but without the patient’s will and determination this level of recovery is not always achieved. We are all grateful to have been given the opportunity to care for a man who overcame the odds and got his life back. His family played a vital role as they were here every day cheering him on. The team at Medilodge of Sterling Heights wishes Joseph the best of luck and many years of good health. It was a pleasure to work with you and watch you come so far in such a short period of time. You are an attestation that with skilled nursing care, skilled therapy, strong family support and a pure drive for life anything is possible.


For more information on locations and services, visit the MediLodge website.  Find us on Facebook for up-to-date pictures or watch our YouTube channel for videos of events and activities.

MediLodge of Sterling Heights

MediLodge of Sterling Heights


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